Australian Court Upholds Thoroughbred Breeding Practices

Australian Court Upholds Thoroughbred Breeding Practices

A federal court has denied a request to allow artificial insemination in Thoroughbred breeding, meaning all mares must continue being bred via live cover.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

A federal Australian court has denied a request by prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder Bruce McHugh to allow artificial insemination in Thoroughbred breeding.

In upholding the current Thoroughbred breeding standard that requires a mare to be covered, Justice Alan Robertson ruled Dec. 19 that McHugh's argument that the current breeding policies restrain trade comes up short on evidence. McHugh, a former bookmaker and former chairman of Sydney Turf Club, will have 21 days to appeal.

The Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA), Louis Romanet, applauds the court's decision.

"The dismissal of the challenge is a good outcome, and I welcome it," Romanet said. "The definition of what is a Thoroughbred is set out clearly in the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing, and Wagering and is adopted by all of the IFHA Members' countries throughout the world. It requires a natural covering."

Romanet and Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, both offered testimony opposing artificial insemination.

The court heard from 30 witnesses in a six-month period and took about a year to reach a decision. Judge Robertson noted that allowing artificial insemination in Australia would have resulted in the country falling out of step with international standards.

"The effect on competition of the international consequences, that is, on the evidence, that in a world where prohibition was overturned in Australia, the status of Thoroughbred races held in Australia would be downgraded," said the court's decision.

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The Blood-Horse is the leading weekly publication devoted to international Thoroughbred racing and breeding. Since 1916, the staff of The Blood-Horse has served the Thoroughbred community with the highest standards of journalistic excellence to provide comprehensive and timely editorial coverage and analysis.

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